ONE devotee died while 469 were injured during the procession of the Black Nazarene in Manila Tuesday, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Oscar Albayalde said.
Ramil Dela Cruz, 51, a former member of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, was rushed to the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center where he was declared dead due to heart attack, Albayalde said in a press conference Wednesday, January 10.
Five children were reported missing, but were found and reunited with their families within the day, he added.
In general, Albayalde said the event was peaceful.
“With over 7.6 million devotees who braved the day, we have recorded no major security and untoward incident,” Albayalde said.
“It has been generally peaceful until the Black Nazarene was home at Quiapo Church,” he added. The Black Nazarene is a life-size image of a dark-skinned Jesus Christ carrying the cross.
He said no one was arrested for the violation of the liquor and gun ban.
According to the Manila Police District, this year's Traslacion - procession of the Black Nazarene from the Quirino Grandstand going back to the Quiapo Church - started around 5 a.m. Tuesday and lasted 22 hours, 2 minutes and 35 second, 17 minutes earlier than the 2017 procession.
Albayalde said the procession could have proceeded faster had the carriage bearing the image of the Black Nazarene not broken down.
“We expect yesterday na sana mas mabilis ito dahil doon sa pacing na nangyari ‘yung pagbaba from the grandstand ay mabilis sana pero ‘yung bandang huling segments 8 p.m. or 9 doon na nagkaproblema, doon na bumagal kaya umabot pa rin ng 22 hours (The procession moved fast at first, but there were problems in the last stretch which is why it still lasted 22 hours),” he said.
“We expect na sana midnight tapos na ito. Una ‘yung kalsada talaga doon masikip at parang nag kaaberya pa yata ‘yung gulong, isang factor din ‘yun (We had hoped that it would be finished by midnight. But the road was narrow and there was a problem with the carriage),” he added.
Albayalde said the success of the event may be attributed to the preparations made by the police together with the church’s administration.
“Maraming first time dyan even ‘yung pagbaba after ng mass bago s’ya ibaba sa andas at isasakay doon. Dati kasi after the mass before na ibaba s’ya before 5 a.m. just like yesterday dinudumog ng mga deboto yan,” he said.
“Kaya ‘yung pagbaba pa lang paglagay sa andas ay more or less 1 or 2 hours na pero kahapon napakabilis kasi binantayan natin with more than 3,000 policemen who will notice na may nakabaricade doon sa grandstand, ‘yun ang purpose nun para hindi makalapit tao bago sya ibaba sa andas,” he added.
(Placing the image on the carriage alone takes 1 or 2 hours because the devotees usually swamp the image, but yesterday, it happened fast because more than 3,000 policemen set up a barricade at the grandstand to prevent the people from going near the image.)
He said such good practices including the turning-off of the cellular signal as pre-emptive measure will also be observed in the future for the benefit of the devotees. (SunStar Philippines)